What happens after you die is one of life’s big mysteries, which is one of the reasons I love ghost stories — who’s to say the creepy things we read in books are impossible? Ghost stories are everywhere. Some people believe it and others don’t.
I find ‘real-life’ ghost stories especially fascinating, and love visiting places with spooky legends. Here are some of my favourites… I have heard the below stories from when I was a little girl – and they always scared the crap out of me! I have even had to chance to visit some of these beautiful, haunting places… So let’s get started!
1. The Uniondale Hitchhiker Uniondale, Eastern Cape
This is probably one of the most famous, and one of the saddest ghost stories. Between Uniondale and Willowmore, in the semi-desert area of the Karoo there is a very well known story about a phantom hitchhiking girl. On 12th April 1968 there was a car accident on the N9 road to Willowmore, near the town of Uniondale.
The car, a Volkswagen Beetle, was occupied by a young off duty Air Force Lieutenant and his fiancé.It was a bitterly cold, stormy night. The girl was asleep on the back seat of the car when the accident occurred. They were on their way to tell their respective families of their recent engagement. Maria Roux was tragically killed in the accident and since then, a female hitchhiker has appeared at exactly the same spot several times.
In 1978, a motorcyclist gave a lift to a girl who suddenly disappeared while they were riding at full speed. He said that he knew immediately she had gone because the change in weight distribution caused the bike to swerve. On Good Friday, 1976 Anton Le Grange from Oudtshoorn was driving from Willowmore and was roughly thirteen kilometres from Uniondale when he saw a woman standing by the roadside.
She was short with brown hair and wore dark trousers and a jacket. It was around 7.15pm and it was getting cold, so Anton stopped his car and she got in the back seat. As he continued toward Uniondale he tried to talk to the girl but she would not reply. It is only when he looked into the back seat that he realized that she was no longer in the car.
There have been many reports of people picking up a mysterious young girl on the side of the road, some hear her laugh… some hear her scream. And then she is gone.. Her ghost is the cause of fear and apprehension amongst locals passing through Uniondale at night.
2. Tokai Manor – The Manor House
Although grazing rights on the lands around the Tokai Manor House were originally held by Simon van der Stel, the estate was sold in 1792 to Johan Andreas Rauch, chief of the armory and head caretaker of the Groote Schuur Estate. The following owner, Andreas Teubes, was responsible for the construction of a manor house which French master architect, Louis Michel Thibault, is credited to have designed.
The very high front stoep (verandah) with its massive round pillars, was created by dramatically curving the twin flights of stairs. The residence was completed in 1796 and was described as the most outstanding homestead in the Cape Peninsula. The cost of building this splendid house ruined Teubes and he was forced into bankruptcy in 1799.
In the early 1800s the residence was owned by Petrus Michiel Eksteen. He was a party-loving spendthrift who hosted the finest banquets. His parties were well-known and his cellars always well-stocked. (He was eventually declared insolvent in 1849.) During one of Eksteen’s New Year’s Eve parties, his son Frederick (who was an exceptional rider) accepted a wager from his father to ride his horse up the staircase and into the dining room.
The guests watched expectantly as he mounted the steep steps of the Manor House on horseback. The horseman circled the dining room table, hooves clattering, spurred on by cheers and laughter from the revellers. Tragedy followed and the dinner guests rose to watch horse and mount depart. While descending the exceptionally steep steps, the horse tripped and both horse and rider fell.
The young man broke his neck in the fall and lay dead alongside his horse at the bottom of the staircase. It is said that the spectral horse and rider still canter through the forest and sometimes, especially on New Year’s Eve, they relive their death. Over the years there have been several reports about the pair frequenting the area around the Manor House. Without a logical explanation, sometimes exuberant laughter and neighing of horses can be heard from inside the Manor House at night.
In the dark early hours of the morning forestry workers have heard a horse at full gallop along the road. The rider reportedly wears clothes from a bygone era and heads straight towards the old house and mounts the steps!
3. Rudd House, Kimberley
Known as one of the most paranormal active houses in the country, it was built in the 1870s by H.P. Rudd, chairman of the De Beers Mining Company. Multiple wings were added over the next 100 years, and generations of Rudds inhabited the building until they apparently couldn’t take the sounds of a baby wailing and silverware clanging and moved out. Renowned clairvoyant Dr. P.K. Le Sueur studied the house for years, claiming to witness glowing orbs and strange manifestations.
Another story documents three journalists sitting around a table getting their photo taken. Only two appeared in the developed picture. Kimberley has round about 158 haunted houses and buildings with well over 200 still to be verified by paranormal experts.
Death on the diamond diggings and later during the Anglo-Boer War, gave Kimberley many haunted corners. So too did failed romance and other downright gory deaths, like a huge fire in the old De Beers Mine in which hundreds of miners perished.
4. Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town
The most ancient standing colonial building in South Africa is the Castle of Good Hope, a fort built by the Dutch East India Company in 1666 and now a tourist site visitors flock to. The pentagon-shaped castle was constructed on the shore so high tides would fill its moat.
There was the dreaded Donker Gat (dark hole) dungeon used to hold prisoners, who would be chained to the walls and tortured. If an extra-large wave came crashing up the shore during high tide, the hole could fill with water within seconds and drown the prisoner chained below. One can imagine the paralyzing fear of hearing the waves getting louder and louder as the tide rose—hoping the next doesn’t fill your watery tomb.
The castle also served as an execution site for convicts, escaped slaves, and rebellious natives. The bell in the bell tower rings independently, a black dog runs at visitors and then vanishes (scary!), screams and footsteps are heard from unknown origins. One of the most profound sightings at the castle involves a tall, glowing figure that is seen pacing between the Oranje and Leerdam bastions.
The spectral figure would occasionally stop his march to lean over the castle wall to view the street below. The sound of phantom footsteps have also been reported in this area when no living person is present to make the sounds.…and then there’s Lady Anne Barnard, the colony’s former First Lady, who likes to show up at parties held for dignitaries, even though she’s been gone for centuries…
5. Kempton’s Haunted Hospital, Johannesburg
The story of the abandoned Kempton Park Hospital is quite the mystery. The hospital closed down suddenly in the late 1990’s, the day after Christmas and has never been reopened. Visitors say that it appears as if everyone literally stood up from what they were doing and walked out, never to return.
There are jars of kidneys on the floor, blood spattered sheets on hospital beds, open files and x-rays strewn across tables. Of course, it is alleged that the hospital is haunted and visitors are said to have heard babies crying, doors opening and shutting and to have seen the figure of a man roaming the halls. Some visitors who tried to take photos inside found afterwards that the photos were obscured by a strange white ‘sheen’. Creeeeepy.
6. Lord Milner Hotel, Matjiesfontein in the Klein Karoo
Matjiesfontein is host to the most haunted place in South Africa – the Lord Milner Hotel, which was built in 1899. Laughter can be heard in empty rooms and the sound of billiards being played is heard when there is no one there. The ghosts said to haunt the halls of Lord Milner includes a 19-year old Boer Nurse, and James Logan – the original town founder. South Africa’s very own version of The Shining.
7. Rust-en-Vreugd – Cape Town
Now a museum and art gallery, this home in the Buitenkant area was built in 1777 and is reputed to be the most haunted house in the city with sightings of unknown apparitions and eerie footsteps. A woman floating down the stairs has also been spotted along with one who stares out the window.
8. Der Fliegende Hollander, Cape Town
Without a doubt, South Africa’s most well-told ghost tale. It’s a story as old as the seas: in 1641 a Dutch trade ship is said to have sank just off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope after sailing into a fierce storm, it’s cargo-hold packed full of treasures from the Far East.
It is a legendary ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. Legend has it that whoever spots the phantom Flying Dutchman at sea will die a horrible death quite soon. Made famous by the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the 17th Century Der Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman) has been sighted over the centuries by everyone from sailors to royalty.
9. Jac Loopuyt House – Rondebosch, Cape Town
This is my favourite house in Cape Town, when I was a student I stayed nearby and was completely fascinated by it. The Ghost house of Rondebosh has a more recent origin. It was given the name “The Spook House”(“Spook” means “ghost” in Afrikaans) after events that occurred in the 70’s.
It was rumoured that the house was a meeting room for a strange cult and some claim that a transparent elderly man walks the grounds while doors and windows bang shut inexplicably. It is rumored that a strange cult resided there in the 1970’s and there are stories of doors being opened and closed mysteriously and a crystal clear elderly man wandering around.
10. Jim Fouché High School, Bloemfontein
Now this story scared the crap out of me, it was told to us every single time we had to go stay over at the hostel for sport events. A girl mysteriously disappeared in 1961. In 1967 the remains of a young girl were found underneath a newly built swimming pool.
The discovery was followed by a series of strange events, such as lights flickering, doors opening and closing, a girl heard singing. Her appearances are random and very, very real.
Are you crapping in your broek yet? Do you know of any other haunted buildings in South Africa? Have you personally experienced seeing a ghost?